Internet Research Tips and Resources for Lawyers

Carole Levitt and Mark Rosch have powerful search-fu. You should buy their book, The Cybersleuth’s Guide to the Internet, whether or not you have had a chance to attend one of their internet research seminars.

At the Strategic Solutions for Solo & Small Firms conference last year, Levitt and Rosch gave two presentations on advanced internet research (not just legal research, but lawyers obviously need to be able to research more than cases and statutes). Knowing how to do more than just type words into Google’s search box — as well as the kinds of information you can find for free online — can be critical.

Here are some of the most-useful tips and resources I got from their presentations.

Internet research tips

  1. Proximity operator. You can search Google based on the proximity of two words. Just use the AROUND(#) operator. (The # is the number of words between the two search terms.) For example, sam AROUND(2) glover would turn up results for “Sam Glover”, “Glover, Sam”, and “Sam J. Glover”.
  2. Find all files on a website (PDFs, spreadsheets, PowerPoint slides) by searching, for example, filetype:pdf.
  3. Public libraries often offer free access to otherwise-expensive databases like newspapers, journals, reference materials, and more. All you need is a library card (which is often free, but may require local residency).
  4. Reminder: many PACER documents are free at RECAP.
  5. Don’t forget Ctrl+F (or Cmd+F for Macs) to search within a page.

Internet research resources

  1. This chart of key search engine features compares Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and Ask.
  2. Google’s own advanced operators documentation is really useful, but note that it is missing things like the AROUND(#) operator.
  3. Google has its own power searching courses.
  4. Family Search is a huge database of death records, while Find A Grave might help you find a gravesite (although it is definitely not comprehensive).
  5. Find birth dates at
  6. ReferenceUSA has a lot of residential addresses, although you need to be a member of a subscribing library.

Want to learn more about online legal research tools? We have a portal for that.


  • 2013-08-06. Originally published.
  • 2014-11-07. Republished with slight changes.



  1. Avatar Adam Ziegler says:

    Really useful tips and resources. Effective Googling should be taught in school to law students and in firms to junior associates.

  2. Avatar JCL says:

    Learning “how to Google” is sometimes just as important as learning how to properly search on Lexis or Westlaw. While its only in its beta release, provides users a free way to perform search of ONLY the web’s free legal resources.

  3. Avatar AFK says: may become a good resource someday, if it takes off. Also I find great example contracts at (harvested from public company filings).

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